THE ROAD AHEAD
According to The Mercury ($), Premier Peter Gutwein will today unveil his government’s plan to reopen Tasmania. It’s expected that the restrictions on national parks and green space will be the among the first to be lifted.
Meanwhile, The NT News ($) reports that Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner will allow playgrounds, pools and outdoor gyms to reopen on Friday. Gunner will today announce the plan ahead for businesses, but it’s expected some will businesses will be allowed to reopen in mid-May.
COULD SA BUSINESS BUCK THE TREND? According to The Advertiser, some South Australian business leaders are leaning into a “28 days without a new case” threshold, which, for that state, would be just another three weeks.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE TO REOPEN?
The Daily Telegraph ($) has published a matrix used by the NSW government to guide the state’s recovery, with measures compared by economic, social and health benefit. From Friday, a maximum of two people are permitted to visit another household for social reasons. The government will now reportedly focus on easing restrictions on outdoor activities throughout May.
As The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Scott Morrison will push for states to lift restaurant dining and domestic flight bans at tomorrow’s National Cabinet meeting. Morrison has favoured a “controlled suppression” recovery strategy over a stricter “elimination” option. Both of these methods were ranked — again, by economic, social, and health cost/benefit — by more than 100 Group of Eight researchers in yesterday’s “Roadmap to Recovery” report.
MORE SPORTS RORTS?
The SMH reports that, back when he was sports minister, NSW Minister for Jobs Stuart Ayres “directly intervened” in a 2018 funding round from the NSW Office of Sport. Most of the $33.4 million funding went to projects in Liberal electorates ahead of the 2019 state election.
This report comes after Bridget McKenzie, in a 6000-word submission to a Senate inquiry into the federal sports rort, declared she makes “no apology for exercising ministerial discretion”. As constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey explained back in February, this is discretion McKenzie did not really have.
HEY, ANOTHER NON-COVID STORY! In other political news, the ABC reports that NSW Deputy Premier and Nationals leader John Barilaro is seriously considering running in the federal Eden-Monaro byelection if, as expected, Labor MP Mike Kelly retires.
- NSW has launched a $250 million cleaners’ package aimed at employment support and hygiene maintenance across public facilities including state transport, schools and TAFE
- Western Australia has also launched a mandatory COVID-19 hygiene training and assessment for the hospitality industry, with venues only able to reopen when restrictions are lifted and every employee has successfully passed assessment
- Victoria has announced the $45 million International Student Emergency Relief Fund, which will provide relief payments of up to $1100 to international students who have lost wages and work due to the pandemic
- South Australia has launched COVID-19 Support Grants of up to $10,000 for community organisations and non-profits. SA has also committed to expanding My Home Hospital to help free up hospital beds and support patients who can receive care in their community
- Queensland has informed growers they will be able to maintain a seasonal workforce. Any worker seeking to come to the state will be asked for written confirmation of a job in Queensland, where they have been for the previous two weeks, and where they plan to reside.
Finally, because it’s just that kind of year, the ABC reports that Australia National University researchers have discovered people are selling blood “allegedly belonging to recovered coronavirus patients” on the dark web.
THEY REALLY SAID THAT?
But Kristina Keneally’s frankly unhinged attacks on the Border Force uniformed officers have been quite remarkable and regrettable.
Responding to Keneally’s accusations that his department was responsible for the Ruby Princess fiasco, the Home Affairs Minister plays the “uniformed officers” card over a customs body only militarised in 2015 by… Peter Dutton.
“Angus Taylor’s decision to buy $94 million of oil last week seemed to come out of nowhere. The energy minister said it was because the price for oil had tanked, making it the perfect time for Australia to buy up and restock our dangerously low reserves.
“But the deal — which will see Australian oil stored in America’s national stockpile — has been brewing for some time. And despite claims that it is part of an effort to improve Australia’s fuel security, the oil will sit, unrefined, in reserves on the other side of the world.”
“There is a time and a place to debate the winding up of coronavirus lockdowns and the reopening of Australian society. That time is now, and that place is the federal and state parliaments of Australia.”
“The coronavirus has brought about an apparent storm of hitherto unseen cooperation and reform — albeit temporary — on industrial relations in Australia. Meanwhile, employer groups continue to push for the same changes they prescribe for every problem: deregulation — or ‘flexibility’ and ‘simplification’ — of the workplace relations system.”
READ ALL ABOUT IT
Eden-Monaro a bushfire byelection the PM doesn’t need — Niki Savva (The Australian): “There is no threat at all to Morrison, but voters could send a message anyway. Mike Kelly won Eden-Monaro by less than 1% last year. With a bit more money and attention, the Liberal candidate, Fiona Kotvojs, might have won. Alas, resources were poured into nearby Gilmore where Morrison’s hand-picked candidate, Warren Mundine, polarised the party and then lost the seat.”
Five ways Malcolm Turnbull’s memoir gets it wrong — Kevin Rudd (The Sydney Morning Herald): “Wherever I go, foreigners are astounded that Murdoch commands 70% of Australian newspaper circulation. In Queensland, a key electoral battleground, he owns 14 of the 15 daily newspapers. This media monopoly is a cancer on our democracy. Turnbull’s thesis echoes my own: News Corp behaves like a political party in alliance with the Liberal right.”
The ‘terrible moral choice’ of reopening — Rachel Donadio (The Atlantic): “Ever since Emmanuel Macron declared France ‘at war’ with the coronavirus, the entire country has been under home confinement, with residents allowed outside only for urgent needs. So when the government announced a gradual reopening of some businesses and schools starting in May, a deep confusion set in.”
WHAT’S ON TODAY
The Senate committee on COVID-19 will hold a public hearing, to hear from the Department of Social Services, Services Australia, NDIA and NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission.
The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade will hold another hearing as part of the inquiry into targeted sanctions to address human rights abuses.
Economist Joseph Stiglitz will discuss “Inequality in a Pandemic” with former Treasurer Wayne Swan in The Australia Institute’s webinar series, “Economics of a Pandemic”.
Industry, Science and Technology Minister Karen Andrews will today announce a $215 million federal manufacturing program.
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